FLMEP LEGAL EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM
These answers to frequently asked questions tell how we were able to carry out our artisanal miners legal empowerment program in Central Africa
About FLMEP vision and mission
We are a grassroots group organized in “Think and Do Thank” that supports global human rights, whose actions are carried out in Africa in multi-dimensionally poor mining regions. Our various research and practice revealed that small-scale artisanal mining activity often takes place in poor and remote places, where human rights dimensions are very rarely taken into consideration within artisanal mining communities. Very little protected by law, these artisanal miners are exposed to high risks of eviction and violation of human rights, making them extremely vulnerable to socio-economic shocks (insecurity, food crises, inflation, pandemics, climate, etc.). Thus, our goal is to transform artisanal miners into a critical mass of information in order to stem the negative behaviors accepted by analogy because of the lack of access to knowledge and representation of human rights in mining spaces rural areas in Africa, mostly conditioned by tensions and violence. Education in human rights as well as in mining rights allows the mobilization of the living forces to fight impoverishment and fight against inequalities throughout the global value chain of the mining industry, the objective being to establish a sustainable network for the dissemination of education on the legal framework in order to facilitate individual and community mobilization to restore justice in mining communities overwhelmed by the state of extreme deprivation as well as the abusive situations linked to mining.
What’s the geographic scope of FLMEP legal empowerment project ?
Our Education program in human rights and mining rights for the self-determination of mining communities to fight against poverty and all other forms of injustice, is carried out in Central African Republic by our local partner KaroMining and will benefit the identified 300,000 artisanal miners their families and relatives who lives in extreme multidimensional poverty throughout the territory.
What’s the main issue that FLMEP legal empowerment work seeks to address?
While they are at the forefront of those who allow the world to develop through the use of mining substances in technological processes (telephones, vehicles, energy, etc.), artisanal miners suffer many socioeconomic deprivations that make them as left-behinds of global society. This gap between the work provided to extract the material that makes it possible to manufacture everyday goods, and the remuneration of the artisan miner can only be bridged if the artisan miners become an informed community, knowing and defending their rights. Science has established that people who are well informed and trained are the ones able to break the cycle of poverty or violence suffered. When we know, for example that of the world's mining production of Cobalt estimated at 168,000 metric tons in 2018, only around 2% comes from legal mines which extract cobalt as their main product, this demonstrates sufficiently that 98% of artisanal miners working in these mines (men, women and children combined) don't know their fundamental rights and remain in extreme multidimensional poverty, a dramatic situation that our human rights and mining rights education program intends to remedy
How FLMEP engages the communities it serves in priority-setting, decision-making, or other types of feedback ?
Working in the Central African Republic in "Doungoubou" area on the aspect of human rights and mining law, we have been able to raise awareness and educate artisanal miners, in the appropriation of the mining code and the claim of their fundamental rights on small-scale artisanal mining that was taking place in their community. The process of assimilation was based on fundamental human rights in order to no longer be marginalized and vulnerable to one of its two immediate means of subsistence, speaking about mining rights (the other means of subsistence being agriculture whose conditions of dangerousness of exercise are not comparable). The result was reflected in an empowering awareness for the participants, accompanied by a determination to organize and act as a community when making major decisions that directly affect their living conditions and that of their dependents rights.
Concretely, the first positive effects were revealed in the context of payment of the "tax on the area" which was henceforth paid directly to the local community according to the law, and no longer to the Ministry. There are also beneficial spin-offs thanks to a strong community mobilization organized by our participants, deferring the obligation to provide health care to artisanal miners who are victims of work accidents. It should be noted that this dynamic applied in extenso to the living conditions of the community, such as that relating to the protection of the environment and the supply of drinking water to the workers. This appropriation of the right to drinking water provided by the company has enabled the mining community to benefit from their company, in addition to the maintenance costs incumbent on them, from water ultrafiltration equipment which has given them daily access to more than 5m3 of drinking water per day. This has reduced by more than 80% illnesses linked to the consumption of poor quality water in this mining village. In addition, the artisanal miners were also educated on their duty of due diligence with regard to wage taxation (employer and individual contribution) and requested and obtained from the General Management of their company, to produce pay slips for them in which they could see their contribution to the state and their social contribution. They also benefited from legal employment contracts and professional work cards, identifying them as mining artisans of the company
What setbacks FLMEP experienced during its legal empowerment campaigns, how the issue is identified and what the response was?
We failed to obtain a relevant success on social progress in the "Doungoubou" mining area covered by our capacity. There is a huge deficit of corporate social responsibility impacting deadly both social and environmental aspect of life. Due to several years of national conflicts, most peoples have toxic behaviors by analogy printed by the lack of any types of rights or choices. We advised craftsmen to act against extreme deprivation -526 cases of human rights abuse over this period according to UN-, but the limited logistical means at our disposal were not sufficient to involve the critical mass of this crisis stakeholders through our education, empowerment or cooperation programs to infuse meaningful social progress, especially for women and children in that area where violence occurs daily. We have therefore decided to focus on partnership with institutions or organizations to work with, in order to carry out more effective action campaigns.
Which strategies we employ to ensure the sustainability of our work?
Members of our organization work in close collaboration with the representatives of the communities of mine workers organized in Syndicate to advance the changes on the ground in partnership with the civil society. We support them in capacity building through our steering structure, which is self-financing through the contributions of its members and evaluates the progress of projects to raise awareness of craftsmen on human rights and mining rights. We have a very advanced knowledge of local issues and the population. A national presence through our team-members constitutes a broad, lasting and effective base for dissemination.
The objective of transforming poverty into prosperity that we have set ourselves over the long term, based on justice, challenges all actors in the global mineral value chain to make changes through respect for vulnerable workers. We are considering broader online communication, particularly around the theme of CSR and ESG. This involves putting a database online providing information on the level of performance of companies, countries, and/or mining production sites, in relation to the objectives set by the United Nations (SDG 2030). This project can be found on this link www.flmepdatabase.org on desktop version.
How we learn from our work and share those lessons with others?
We use the SDG-focused reporting method to collect datas we materialize in the field and share it with others. This allows us to produce a report intended to communicate with all organizations on the basis of our actions and our impact on the ground.
In addition, we have amassed a significant amount of data that is transforming the lives of thousands of artisanal miners. This is how we have identified conflicts between the government and local communities who don't approach mining in the same way, creating conflicts because of the asymmetry between legal, institutional, financial and economic power, which weakens the artisanal miner in the appropriation of his fundamental rights.
As we know empirically, mining conflicts that generate poverty emerge at all stages of the development cycle of a project, whether artisanal or large. These occur even before the start of ore extraction in the concession access stage, until mine closure stages. In order to provide legal arguments allowing artisanal miners to assert them at each stage of the process, we should first appropriate them internally and discuss with associations working specifically in these different themes to find the right framework to protect legal rights of craftsmen
At what time our organization achieved legal empowerment for the people we were advocating for, and how did this effort capture the approach or values of our organization?
The legal autonomy sought and established by our organization in the Central African Republic was undeniably the rural right of artisanal miners, a fundamental right allowing the full transmission of the exploitation of the land from one generation to another. We started from the fact that no one can discuss or even dispute that rural law has as its priority objective, the defense of a family farm.
The mining activity being traditionally family, we have endeavored to give a civil, professional, social, and economic status to the beneficiaries of the land. Thus, in the village "Doungoubou" in the south-west of the Central African Republic, the populations were able to benefit from compensation for the crops destroyed by the mining company which was installed, as well as the abandonment of exploitation in the cultivable areas of the populations. Our programs have therefore enabled these populations to convey a frank dialogue between local community, mining company and public authorities. This model of social transformation clearly embraces our values, because it allows a break with poverty and misery through the use of human rights and mining rights by all parties involved in this process.